Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin today held annual summit talks here with a particular focus on stepping up cooperation in defence and nuclear energy besides facilitating Indian companies’ participation in Russia’s oil and gas sector.
The 16th India-Russia Summit at the Kremlin began with a restricted meeting between the two leaders after which Modi and Putin were joined by their respective delegations.
“I am pleased to note, and I am happy to do that, that we are consistently and confidently developing the privileged strategic partnership between India and Russia,” Putin said in his opening remarks during his meeting with Modi, who is here on a two-day visit.
The bilateral relations were developing in all directions — in international politics, economy and the humanitarian area, Putin was quoted as saying by the state-run TASS news agency.
Ways to expand economic cooperation between the two countries were also explored in the meeting with both countries aiming to take the current bilateral annual trade of USD 10 billion to USD 30 billion in the next 10 years.
Russia is keen to enhance economic cooperation with India. Putin has been making concerted efforts to push the economic growth which witnessed significant slowdown following Western sanctions after the Ukrainian crisis.
To ensure deeper economic engagement, India is pushing for a Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Zone and is sharing with Russia details of a study it conducted in this regard.
The two sides have been working on a number of defence deals and they are understood to have figured in the talks.
There were indications that Russia was ready to ensure transfer of technology for some of the joint ventures in the defence sphere. The deals being talked about include joint manufacture of Kamov-226T helicopters.
Last week, India’s Defence Ministry’s top acquisition council had cleared the purchase of Russian S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems at an estimated cost of Rs 40,000 crore.
Russia has been India’s biggest supplier of arms though New Delhi has started buying more military hardware from the US in the last few years.
In the nuclear energy sector, India is expected to offer a site in Andhra Pradesh to set up units five and six of Kudankulam nuclear power plant. The new plants will be in sync with broad principles of ‘Make in India’ initiative.
Earlier in the day, Modi laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a war memorial dedicated to the Soviet soldiers killed in the World War II. The memorial is located at the Kremlin Wall in the Alexander Garden here.
He also visited Russia’s premier crisis management centre EMERCOM which deals with any kind of emergency situations and ensures coordination among various relevant agencies.
The Prime Minister spent around half-an-hour at the National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC), popularly known as EMERCOM, the short form of Emergency Control Ministry.